Phelan four back after weather-delayed opening day in Indonesia

Ronan MacNamara
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Kevin Phelan (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Kevin Phelan is just four shots off the lead at the BNI Indonesian Masters presented by TNE after round one was cut short because of lightning at Royale Jakarta Golf Club.

Thailand’s Kosuke Hamamoto and Neil Schietekat from South Africa both shot sizzling six-under-par 66s to take the clubhouse lead. Waterford native Phelan shot a two-under 70 which included three birdies and a bogey.

A member of GB&I’s 2013 Walker Cup side, Phelan made the turn in 34 after birdies on the third and ninth but slowed up slightly on his way home with a bogey on 13, although he got that shot back on the par-3 15th to share 17th place.

Hamamoto, playing well off the back of a second-placed finish in Bangladesh last Sunday, toured the layout at Royale Jakarta Golf Club bogey free, with four birdies on the front and two on the back, while Schietekat, battling to keep his Tour card, carded seven birdies and one dropped shot.

India’s Veer Ahlawat returned a 67 while Korea’s Bongsub Kim, Pawin Ingkhaprait from Thailand, Canadian Richard T. Lee and Filipino Miguel Tabuena all came in with 68s. Half the field were unable to complete their rounds as play was stopped for the day at 4.45pm local time.

Hamamoto lost by one shot to compatriot Danthai Boonma last week but rather than being disappointed about not being able to win his first Asian Tour event he has taken the positives from the experience and is philosophical about it.

He said: “I was okay about not winning last week, I have changed my mentality, golf is not everything in my life. Finishing second doesn’t define who I am. I am having the time of my life and living the dream.”

The rising star, whose father is Japanese and mother Thai, has made multiple changes to his game and mindset which has led to some fine form.

“Lately I have been working with a new coach, Kris Assawapimonporn, who also teaches Atthaya Thitikul, I have a new caddie and a new set of irons, and I have changed my mentality, so it’s been a lot of things and it seems to be working. I will just keep on focusing what I need to do.”

His new caddie is non-other than ‘Camp’, formerly Jazz Janewattananond’s bagman, who was on the bag when Jazz won here in 2019. Hamamoto also revealed that only a few months ago life was proving difficult.

He said: “During the summer I had a really tough time, I think I have come out of it more mature. I just had stuff going on outside the course that effected my mentality, and I wasn’t having fun on the course. I didn’t feel like playing golf.”

Schietekat is 72nd on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and needs a good result this week to finish in the top-60 and retain his playing privileges.

“It’s been a disappointing year,” said the 38 year old from Johannesburg. “I came out here having got my card, at the 2020 Q School, and wanted to do much better. I am getting used to Asia, which I love, but I need a good week to keep my card. It is what it is, I got off to a good start.

“I started off well today, made a lot of putts. I had 27 putts and missed two greens. Struggling with the driver a little bit, I think I cracked my favourite driver in Morocco, and when I was getting a fitting in Egypt the week after, they said the face is cracked. That was my baby, had it for two and a half years and I normally pride myself on my driving. So, I am fiddling with other drivers.”

Bad weather first stopped play at 2.20pm and resumed at 4.15pm, for half an hour. South African Mathiam Keyser was five under with five to play, while Indian Anirban Lahiri, who won here in 2014, was four under after 10 holes. Play will resume at 6.15am on Friday.

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